Latest News

Government announces rise in new homes built last year

20 January 2021

Figures published in January 2021 show a 111 per cent increase in housebuilding in England from July to September 2020 compared with the previous quarter. Data for the same period also show a quarterly rise of 185 per cent more dwellings completed. Read More...

Winter weather precautions

20 January 2021

Propertymark Industry Supplier, Gallagher offers practical steps that can help agents and their clients reduce the risk of damage to property as areas of the nation are set to see further warnings of more inclement weather to come. Damage caused by the escape of water from frozen pipes and other equipment can be extremely costly in repairs and disruption. Read More...

New Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme

19 January 2021

First-time buyers looking to purchase a home in England will continue to receive Government support under the revised Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme (2021-2023), which is now open for applications with buyers able to move into their new properties from 1 April 2021. Read More...

Further calls to Government to extend Stamp Duty cut

15 January 2021

A group of 50 Conservative MPs are calling on the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak to extend the stamp duty cut for properties worth less than £500,000 a further 12 months in a major boost alongside The Telegraph’s ‘Stamp Out the Duty’ campaign. Read More...

New building safety regulators proposed for Wales

15 January 2021

The Welsh Government’s Building Safety White Paper covers all multi-occupied residential buildings, from houses converted into flats through to high rise apartment blocks. It sets out major reforms to how properties are designed, built, managed, and lived in whilst proposing clear lines of accountability and a stronger regulatory system. Read More...

Support growing for Fire Safety Bill amendments that add protection for leaseholders

15 January 2021

In November, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the UK Government’s Fire Safety Bill making changes to the current legislation to protect leaseholders from having to pay for historical fire safety remedial work, including the removal of dangerous cladding. Read More...

Tightened restrictions for working from home and in people’s homes

13 January 2021

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced today, 13 January, six new changes to COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland to come into force on Saturday, 16 January, subject to Parliament approval. Among these changes are statutory guidance on working from home and a limitation on working within other people's homes by law. Read More...

Property industry urges the use of the UPRN across the sector

13 January 2021

Propertymark, along with other leading residential property bodies across the UK, have published an open letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Thalia Baldwin, Director of the Geospatial Commission highlighting the potential benefits from implementing a widely adopted Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN). Read More...

Overarching statutory regulation vital for the sector

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Propertymark highlights the importance of regulation within the property sector and divergence in rules across the UK in response to the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategies consultation which called for evidence on the UK’s approach to the recognition of professional qualifications and the regulation of professions.

The consultation sought insight on the UK’s approach to ensure the way we recognise qualifications from other countries is fair, complements the needs of the UK workforce and maintains high levels of quality and consumer protection, promote a regulatory environment that supports jobs, social mobility, and access to professions for individuals from all backgrounds and ensure the regulation of professions is forward-looking, adaptive and meets the needs of consumers.

The importance of regulation

Propertymark believes regulation within the property sector:

  • Protects public interest for environmental reasons
  • Protects public safety for health reasons
  • Value for money/protects taxpayer
  • Enables professionals to charge more for their services
  • Protects consumers from receiving low-quality services
  • Provides training

The main rationale for regulation in the property sector is that estate agents working across the UK and letting agents operating in England and Northern Ireland are unregulated, which means anyone can set up a business. Outside of regulatory requirements for letting agents in Scotland and Wales, there are no minimum standards to work in the sector and there are no statutory rules to ensure agents are suitably qualified. Additionally, agents who are not members of a professional body do not have to meet minimum competency standards. As a result, there are four other rationales for regulation:

  • It will protect consumers from receiving low-quality services.
  • It will provide training and continued professional development for professionals working in regulation will protect public safety for health reasons. 
  • It can help to bring greater levels of consistency and a joined-up approach.

Propertymark members

Our members join and seek to become Propertymark Protected voluntarily to demonstrate transparency and ensure they are at the forefront of developments in the industry in accordance with our Conduct and Membership Rules. Members have opted to become regulated in a mostly unregulated sector by complying with higher standards than the law demands. Members must comply with a series of requirements including:

  • Propertymark’s Conduct and Membership Rules
  • Completing 12 annual hours of continued professional development (CPD)
  • Having an accountant's report carried out on their designated client account.

Propertymark’s standards set a blueprint for much-anticipated regulation within the sector as the current standards we set, against which applicants are assessed are a fair reflection of the level of skill, training, education, and experience required to practice their profession.

International recognition

Given the variation between legislation and practice in property across the UK, Propertymark requires those individual agents coming forward for recognition and membership of the UK professional body to be competent in the UK context in which they plan to work. Reliance is put on the individual to map their achievement against the relevant learning outcomes which are then considered by the relevant team. This enables Propertymark Qualifications to develop a list of ‘acceptable’ and proxy-type qualifications. However, given the differences in law and practice, it is unusual for real estate/property agency qualifications to be mutually recognised internationally. This would be further complicated by licenses to practice in a number of countries and the development of a similar regulatory system in England and across the UK.

Propertymark has a good working relationship with CEPI – European Association of Real Estate Professions, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a North American trade association for those who work in the real estate industry, and Ireland’s Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV). For instance, during the COVID-19 lockdown period, Propertymark hosted a webinar with representatives from NAR and IPAV to share best practices and look at and discuss how the pandemic is affecting agents in their respective countries.

Qualification

We believe that qualification should be included in the overarching statutory regulation of the whole sector. Without minimum entry requirements to practice, such as a qualification and a code of practice, it means that consumers are potentially dealing with someone who does not understand the technicalities involved in buying and selling and renting property or understand how to analyse the level of risk to their business.

Ensuring agents are suitably qualified and meet minimum competency standards is the only way to drive up standards of service for consumers and eliminate the bad practice in the sector. Regulation for the property sector will provide training and continued professional development for professionals working in the industry. This is important because sales and lettings are complicated tasks governed by complex areas of law. For instance, up to June 2015, there were 145 laws with over 400 regulations that landlords need to abide by to legally let a property in England and Wales.

Redress

The main consumer protection impacts in the housing market are problems with redress. This is important because complaint handling for consumers is a widespread problem in the property sector. For instance, the Property Ombudsman’s annual report 2019 shows that ‘complaints handling’ was the second most common cause of complaint about sales and the third most prevalent complaint about the lettings sector. The other most common complaints from sales and lettings include, ‘communication and record-keeping’, ‘management’ and ‘marketing and advertising’. There are three reasons for this.

1) It is not clear to consumers who to raise a complaint with.

2) There are gaps in redress.

3) The existing redress schemes are inconsistent in the way that they handle complaints.

Propertymark believes that all agents should adhere to an approved code of practice that can be used by the redress schemes to adjudicate consistently across the sector. An approved code will also ensure that agents can demonstrate a high level of customer service and protection, such as a robust and legitimate customer complaints procedure, which can be used to hold agents to account.

Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA)

Propertymark welcomes the five main recommendations of RoPA that were included in the report released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in July 2019.

The proposed new regulatory framework will therefore cover sales agents across the UK and letting and managing agents in England only. Propertymark has long campaigned for greater regulation of property agents. We believe that mandatory qualifications will promote professionalism and basic standards within lettings and sales which will benefit both businesses and consumers. It is vital the UK Government implement the recommendations and set out how it plans to regulate the property sector as soon as possible.

A new regulatory approach will protect consumers from receiving low-quality services because the UK Government cannot continue legislating in a piecemeal fashion. This approach is unmanageable and unenforceable as demonstrated by the significant increase in legislation governing the sector over the last few years but no corresponding increase in prosecutions. We believe that overarching statutory regulation of the whole sector is needed.

The full response

Propertymark Qualifications

Get ahead of regulation and start studying for a Level 3 or Level 4 Propertymark Qualification.

Propertymark Qualifications is the market leader and the only specialist awarding body for agents in the sector offering up-to-date qualifications to fit in with any new syllabus required and offer continued support to students.

Find out more about the differences in qualifications and how to enrol below.

Find out more